© Star file photo
The wood yard at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is shown.
CORNER BROOK The union representing loggers and silviculture workers employed by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper have reached and ratified a new collective agreement, though by only a slim majority.
The negotiating team representing Local 60N of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union reached a tentative deal with the paper company July 26. In a subsequent series of ratification meetings held in Gander, Deer Lake and Corner Brook, the roughly 300 members of Local 60N accepted the deal with 56 per cent of the votes cast in agreement.
The three-year deal replaces the former labour contract that had expired at the end of 2008.
Lindy Vincent, Local 60N’s president, said the tough times in the global newsprint industry in recent years made for a situation where no one was in a big rush to sign a new contract if it meant concessions from the previous agreement.
That frustration may have showed with only a little more than half the members willing to accept this latest offer from the company. The members had rejected previous offers brought to them by the union executive since this round of bargaining began last year.
“The membership was upset that we have been without an agreement for the last five years, but we sat back, sized it up and realized the last five years would not have been a good time to be in negotiations in this industry,” said Vincent.
While they conceded having to start paying $20 per week for their benefits coverage, the woodlands workers will be getting wage increases in the coming years of the new deal.
“We really came out on top, in my opinion,” said Vincent. “It’s a fair agreement and, under the present conditions of the paper industry, it’s something we can live with.”
With the ratification of the deal with Local 60N, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper has now forged new labour contracts with seven of its eight unions, including all six that represent workers inside the mill.
The only outstanding contract remaining now is that with CEP Local 495, which represents employees at Deer Lake Power.
Gary Healey, CEP’s national representative, said talks are ongoing between the union at the power plant and the company.
“They are bargaining away and it’s a work in progress,” he said.
Kruger Inc., the Montreal-based parent company of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, declined to make any comment about the status of any of the labour negotiations.